05 June 2009

Ricin?

Stereoview of ricin -
data source 2aai, here.

The Daily Mail report, "Police smash white supremacist terror plot to poison ethnic minorities with ricin."

"Police have smashed a global terror plot by white supremacists aimed at poisoning ethnic minorities with the deadly poison ricin.

They discovered the lethal toxin in a sealed jam jar after a six month investigation ended with dawn raids on two properties in County Durham.

Two men were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 and were yesterday being quizzed by officers over their involvement in a worldwide plot.
"

The question this report raises is ... how would they know to test for ricin?

Consider this tale from a couple of months back, "Cannabis Mimic where a synthetic cannabis mimic was found in herbal incense.

Reading the story closely one realises that the compound was only discovered by chance. Going back to the original story from the Royal Society of Chemistry, "Synthetic cannabis mimic found in herbal incense," we have -

"several laboratories tried unsuccessfully to deduce what ingredient was responsible for the high, with one expert suggesting it was simply a placebo effect. But in December, THC Pharm, a Frankfurt, Germany-based company that makes medicines from cannabis, was able to detect JWH-018 in several packets of Spice.

Christian Steup, a medical doctor and pharmacist in charge of quality control at THC Pharm who supervised the analysis, told Chemistry World that he was able to detect JWH-018 while bigger labs failed because he had synthesised the substance about two years ago and all information was still on the company computer.
"

In other words, you have to know (or strongly suspect) what you're looking for in order to find it.

How did they know to look for ricin?

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